Ultimate Guide to the London Eye – the giant Ferris Wheel in London

I hate Ferris wheels and the London Eye looked no different to me. So I literally dreaded having to take my life in my hands and go for a whirl on the giant Ferris wheel in London. I was soothed by the fact that we could go on the giant wheel and then take a lovely cruise down the Thames.

We were also not staying in London itself so it made travel into the City a concern as well. We were house-sitting about an hour outside London in a beautiful little village called Sonning (very close to where George Clooney and his wife Amal live).

The London Eye with a view to Big Ben

We wanted to get into London to see some of the sites without breaking the bank so we looked into some travel options. We discovered a great tip that said if we purchased a Rail Travel Card it would allow us not only to travel on the trains but also the tube and the buses.  At approximately £20 each, it was a bargain, we only had to make sure we travelled within non-peak hours.

National Rail does a host of these 2-for-1 deals if you are taking the train to London. You can get deals on pretty much every London site you can think of, from the Tower of London to 60% off theatre shows.

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a river cruise view of Big Ben and the Houses of parliament from the London Eye

London Eye tourist information

Hubs desperately wanted to try out the London Eye, so I went looking for coupons or deals to see what we could make the trip for. To my delight, I learned that with our Rail Travelcards, we could get some great 2-for-1 deals on many of London’s top attractions. So I quickly booked our tickets for the London Eye and printed the coupon.

the London Eye from a distance

I also found a great deal on a two-for-one deal with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers that allowed us to cruise up and down the Thames hopping off when and where we wanted.  The Days Out site has a ton of places to visit with coupons, from restaurants to bars to cafes, The Tower of London, London Zoo and a great deal more.  It is the perfect way to travel to London on a budget.

view of a capsule of the London Eye and the City beyond

Where is the London Eye located?

The London Eye is located on the South Bank of the River Thames, opposite Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and next to the London Eye Pier. The ticket office is located inside County Hall, which is the building directly next to the London Eye.

How do I get to the London Eye?

Waterloo is the closest tube/underground station to The lastminute.com London Eye. Waterloo is about 5 minutes walking distance, located in zone 1 and well connected by the Bakerloo line (brown), Jubilee line (grey), Northern line (black) and Waterloo and City line (turquoise).

The London Eye Faqs

Technically the London Eye is not a Ferris Wheel it is a “cantilevered observation wheel”, which means that is has one main support on the side of the wheel. The London Eye is the 4th highest observation wheel in the world and the tallest one in Europe.

The eye was initially known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye and in 1993 a competition was run that asked Londoners to decide on a new landmark for the city to celebrate the upcoming new millennium. The London Eye was the winner and it was opened in March of 2000. These days for folks visiting London it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London.

The London Eye lineups appear to be absolutely immense and you think you may be in the queue for the rest of your life or at least a good portion of the day.  However, they move very quickly and within 10 minutes we had our boarding tickets and we headed to Line A. 

view of the shard from the River Thames

London Eye history

The Eye was built in 2000 and it was only expected to be up for about a year but it became so popular it is still going. From Line, A it took another 10 minutes and we were boarding.  A brief holdup in the queue for the staff to take photos against a backdrop and the line moves very quickly. 

London Eye photos

You can pay for these photos in the main building and you can also get photos done in the capsule itself that you can purchase. The cars don’t actually really stop they hover for a brief second so you can get on board and they are off again. They do have plenty of room for anyone who might be disabled and they can take wheelchairs, which was fantastic to see. And yes you can sit down on the London Eye – I know I had to when I felt a little dizzy from the height.

close up of the capsule you ride in for the London Eye

Once in the car, you move so slowly that you can barely feel any movement at all.  The views are absolutely incredible.  On one side, you have Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament the other you can see all the way to the City and St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

The trip takes around 30 minutes and you are in the capsule with around 27 other folks all vying for the best camera shot.  A moment’s shakiness when on the top of the Eye and I was okay but it was a little disconcerting for those of us with a fear of heights.  It was an amazing experience but I am glad we got a deal on the tickets.

Ultimate Guide to the London Eye - the giant Ferris Wheel in London

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The London Eye and a Thames Cruise

Right beside the London Eye is the Pier where you can pick up tickets for a few different river cruises.  Thanks to the Days Out Guide we chose River Roamer tickets on the MNBA Thames Clippers, which cost a total of £17 and allowed us to hop on and hop off wherever the boat stopped.  They motored down the river and back and we decided to hop off in Greenwich when we saw the tall masts of the Cutty Sark.

the awesome Cutty Sark ship on the Greenwich pier

When we hopped back on the Clipper we, rode down to the North Greenwich Pier for a view of the O2 Arena where apparently Justin Beiber was set to perform in 3 sold-out concerts. Hopping back on the Clipper, we spent another 30 minutes cruising past Canary Wharf and the Docklands.

Ultimate Guide to the London Eye - the giant Ferris Wheel in London

We admired Tower Bridge and got some great shots from the river, then onto London Bridge, and Bankside where we saw the Globe Theatre (a tour of the Globe is in the works). We got to see lots of iconic sites on the river including the Lions Heads on the pier in front of County Hall.

Ultimate Guide to the London Eye - the giant Ferris Wheel in London

The lions, who keep watch along the Thames in Central London, holding mooring rings in their mouths, play an interesting role as a flood warning system for superstitious Londoners, keen to keep an eye on water levels in the Thames.

Ultimate Guide to the London Eye - the giant Ferris Wheel in London

A rhyme helps to remember how to keep watch on the lions. It is said that…

“When the lions drink, London will sink”
“When it’s up to their manes, we’ll go down the drains”
“When the water is sucked, you can be sure we’re all … in trouble”

The Tower of London with the infamous Traitor’s Gate. Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth 1st both passed through this gate on their way to imprisonment in the famed Tower.

Ultimate Guide to the London Eye - the giant Ferris Wheel in London

Some great views of the Docklands, and all along the Thames a hop-on hop-off cruise is a great way to see the sites. See more bird’s eye views on LooknWalk.

If you are lucky enough to be in London over Christmas you must wander down Oxford Street and check out all the Xmas activities and events that take place every year.

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Author

  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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